I took the following photographs on Saturday, September 15 and Monday, September 17, 2012 in Washington Square Park, Zucotti Park and the sidewalk in front of Trinity Church. September 17 is the actual anniversary day of the Occupy Wall Street movement, but last year, the major celebratory activities took place on the weekend, two days before, in Washington Square Park. There, the OWS participants gathered for teach-ins, assemblies and workshops as well as, simply, for celebration and the pleasure of getting together.
Because I was out of the city for much of September this year, including the movement’s Second Anniversary on September 17, 2013, I wanted to contribute to the OWS Second Anniversary with some of my photographs–un-posted until now–taken during the First Anniversary of 2012.
The caption accompanying each photograph documents its day and location. Below a photograph (or group of photos), I then provide context, supplementary notes, and/or some analytical observations.
|New York City, Lower Broadway, Trinity Church, Drey (OWS Activist from Manhattan), 9/17/2012|
|New York City, Lower Broadway, Trinity Church, Justin (OWS Activist from Brooklyn–far left), 9/17/2012|
Trinity Church, at 79 Broadway in lower Manhattan, is located just a few blocks south of Zuccotti Park. This landmark Manhattan church was chartered by King William III in 1697; the first church was built on its site the following year; and the present–third–church, a major example of the Gothic Revival style, dates from 1846 and was designed by Richard Upjohn.In 1705, Queen Anne bequeathed 215 acres of Manhattan farmland to Trinity, and what remains of this land still in its possession, some 5.5 million square feet of commercial real estate in Hudson Square (West SoHo), makes Trinity the richest parish in the Anglican world.
Occupy Wall Street (OWS) began a relationship with the Trinity parish soon after its participants first camped out in nearby Zuccotti Park, and the parish gave the protesters refuge and use of bathroom facilities at its community center, Charlotte’s Place. However, this relationship soured a month after City police kicked the OWS demonstrators out of Zuccotti Park on November 15, 2011.
With no place to camp out, the demonstrators had asked to move their campground/commune to the parish’s open, unused and fenced-off property at Canal Street and 6th Avenue, known as Duarte Square. When denied their request, some OWS protestors broke into Duarte Square on December 17. Trinity Church stood by, allowed them to be arrested, and later pressed charges on those who had not accepted plea deals. Since then, and feeling betrayed, OWS protestors have been camping in front of Trinity Church and say they will continue to do so until Trinity’s high-living, high-spending rector, Rev. James Cooper is fired and leaves the Church. They call themselves Occupy Trinity Wall Street (OTWS) and camp at the parish doorstep 24 hours/day. This is what these two photographs reveal.
Reverend Cooper will step down in 2015, but his handling of the OWS protestors has brought criticism from a world figure like Desmond Tutu as well as his own board. Surely, such a historic and charitable institution, holding fourteen acres bordering SoHo, Tribeca and Greenwich Village, some of it open and unoccupied, might easily have found a more humanitarian and public-spirited way to help these highly-committed, peaceful demonstrators.
Washington Square Park
|New York City, Washington Square Park, OWS Schedule Board, 9/15/2012|
OWS has no formal leaders, yet it is well-organized, as this schedule for the day implies. Assembly meetings are open to all. Participants take turns speaking and attempt to reach consensus. OWS also has over seventy working groups. As Paul Levinson of Fordham University has observed, the OWS Assembly represents “a resurgence of direct democracy–not really known since ancient times….[and through it] decisions can more truly represent the will of the people.”
|New York City, Washington Square Park, Sign Making/Taking, 9/15/2012|
|New York City, Washington Square Park, OWS People’s Library, 9/15/2012|
The OWS People’s Library was started soon after the first protest in Manhattan. By November of 2011 it could boast a catalogue of 5, 554 books, some quite rare and of unusual historical interest. Most of the collection was destroyed when, on November 15, 2011, the New York City Police and Sanitation Departments forcibly evicted everyone from Zuccotti Park.Eventually, some 800 books and documents were recovered from dumpsters and trash piles. The Occupy movement in other cities, in America and throughout the world, also cultivated libraries as essential components of its working model, and these serve as archives for the movement itself.
An article in American Libraries magazine calls the OWS Library “one of the purest public libraries out there [in that] it exists to inform and entertain anyone who can access it” freely and without cards, fees, or due dates. Also, to quote from this same article, “a library is seen as a mark of culture and…creating one is a mark of civic pride and gravitas.” Thus, simply by creating libraries for its people (and others), the OWS movement transcends the narrow political expediency of most other protest groups.
|New York City, Washington Square Park, Direct Action Flaneurs, 9/15/2012|
|New York City, Washington Square Park, Direct Action: Cataloguing, 9/15/2012|
This area of the Park was supplied with old, manual typewriters and sheets of orange paper, each with a pre-printed superscript containing the identifier, Direct Action Flâneurs. The word, flâneur, emerged in mid-19th century Paris to define the artistic gentleman who strolled the boulevards and lounged on the city’s street-corners and cafés as a detached observer. Charles Baudelaire epitomized the flâneur, a new social phenomenon of modern life, a creature of the middle class, yet one who cultivated an aristocratic detachment.The OWS Direct Action Flâneurs are a bit different, naturally: any and all passers-by are invited to sit down, put an orange sheet in the typewriter, and record their observations, document the anniversary event unfolding before them, catalogue their sensations. I suspect that these sheets will become part of the OWS archive and I imagine that, for some of the younger people, this may have been their first experience in using a typewriter!
|New York City, Washington Square Park, Washington Arch (Stanford White), 1892, 9/15/2012|
|New York City, Washington Square Park, Fountain, 1870, 9/15/2012|
Washington Square Park is a major node of Greenwich Village–a public meeting ground that marks the southern end of Fifth Avenue. Stanford White’s Washington Arch provides the axial transition from roadway and wheeled transportation to the more random, pedestrian movement within the park. Originally erected in wood in 1889 to celebrate the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration as Americna’s first President, the Arch was re-designed three years later as a permanent fixture in marble.Before becoming a major locus of public recreation, Washington Square Park had been a marsh adjacent to a Sappokanican Indian settlement, then in 1797 it became a potter’s field and place for public hangings; in 1826, it became the Washington Military Parade ground, where volunteer militia could train. The following decade saw the first buildings of New York University on Washington Square East and the building of Greek Revival town houses on Washington Square North, setting the stage for the public park we see today.
The fountain was installed in 1870, part of a re-design under Boss Tweed. The small, yellow, protest sticker, seen here on a pylon of the fountain, refers to the (then) upcoming Presidential Debate at Hofstra University.
|New York City, Washington Square Park, Amanda (OWS Activist from Woodstock), 9/15/2012|
I like the fact that Amanda has chosen to display this sign among the many choices surrounding her. Having documented several OWS demonstrations, including its very first one, I have been struck by the friendliness and generosity of almost all the participants.They–and their movement–really embrace the spirit of generosity, as it is defined today by the University of Notre Dame’s study on the Science of Generosity: “the virtue of giving good things to others freely….[as well as the] many vices rejected (selfishness, greed, fear, meanness).”
In fact, meanness, fear, and a lack of generosity, qualities so alien to the OWS activists, seem to be just the qualities that characterize the Tea Party (to which OWS is so often compared).
|New York City, Washington Square Park, Flag of Corporate America, 9/15/2012|
The American Flag, with the logos of major corporations having displaced the state stars, has been around for some time–at least since 2010, I believe. Yet, this modified flag is emblematic of the OWS movement in implying that our nation (our government) is controlled not by elected representatives from its fifty states but by wealthy, international corporations.Still, as Bob Cesca clarifies by the title of his essay of October of 2011, “Occupy Wall Street Isn’t Anti-Corporation, It’s Anti-Corporate Crime.” The OWS protesters simply are “against the corporations that corrupt the system, deplete the Treasury and ultimately aren’t held accountable for their crimes.” Nobody can question their patriotism as Americans.
|New York City, Washington Square Park, Dead Bull, 9/15/2012|
Sculptor Arturo di Modica’s 7,000 pound Charging Bull, which has become the symbol of Wall Street’s financial aggression lies supine on this OWS tee shirt. One needn’t elaborate.
|New York City, Washington Square Park, Inside Job, 9/15/2012|
Inside Job, of course, refers to the film directed by Charles Ferguson that won the 2010 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. A. O. Scott’s review of the film calls it “the story of a crime without punishment, of an outrage….[and] betrayal of public trust;” but Ezra Klein, in another review with the benefit of eight months’ hindsight, warns that the system Wall Street developed was too complex for anyone to understand, and Inside Job told “the wrong story about how the financial crisis happened.”If you haven’t seen the movie, rent it, watch it (as the activist holding this sign admonishes), and reach your own conclusions. It’s a gripping story, well told.
|New York City, Washington Square Park, People’s Investigation, 9/15/2012|
|New York City, Washington Square Park, Occupy Vision, 9/15/2012|
|New York City, Washington Square Park, SLAM, 9/15/2012|
|New York City, Washington Square Park, Claire & Long (Common Cause), 9/15/2012|
Common Cause is a well known liberal advocacy organization, founded in 1970 by a Republican, it should be noted: John W. Gardner. It champions transparency and accountability in our political system and focuses in particular on campaign finance reform, election reform, and ethics in government.Common Cause supports OWS and “the concerns of the 99%. “It stands with “the Occupy Movement, and with everyone who is fighting to get big, self-interested money out of our politics.” Working the table for Common Cause are Claire, an NYU student, and Long, a student at Columbia.
|New York City, Washington Square Park, Emily, 9/15/2012|
The Occupy movement has many local cells, such as Occupy Astoria, in Queens. Emily, of course, lives in Queens.Earlier this year, another Occupy Astoria activist, Ted Alexandro, drove to North Carolina with two friends to participate in the Moral Monday demonstrations in Raleigh. He relates an exchange between the OWS visitors from Queens and the generosity of local church people from North Carolina that you may read here. As one woman from Raleigh said about OWS, “you all in NY inspired us!”
|New York City, Washington Square Park, Occupy Staten Island, 9/15/2012|
As most of the local cells, Occupy Staten Island is fighting for economic equality, adequate living and working conditions, as it works to promote “real democracy and our basic human rights.” Its web page notes that, beyond a wide range of economic problems, people need to deal with the “destruction of our environment…[which soon] will be irreversible. Without a safe, life-supporting habitat, none of our other issues will matter.”With this in mind, it should be noted that in the early days following Hurricane Sandy, Occupy Staten Island played a crucial role in organizing volunteers to bring food, clothing and supplies to the needy of New York.
What we don’t see and what is not picked up by the press is how each and every OWS cell continues to meet locally and work, somewhere, to promote the common good.
|New York City, Washington Square Park, Anarchists’ Table, 9/15/2012|
Today’s anarchists are at a far remove from their predecessors of a century ago, mainly remembered for assassinations and bombings. According to Michael Kazin, the OWS anarchists are “ultra-egalitarian, radically environmentalist, effortlessly multicultural and scrupulously non-violent.“I regret not having taken the time to wait in line and talk to the people at this Anarchist’s Table, but at least one of their logos identifies an “underground anarchist collective” from Brooklyn that calls itself In Our Hearts. It runs free programs such as the Brooklyn Free Store and Food Not Bombs.
|New York City, Washington Square Park, Move To Amend, 9/15/2012|
Move To Amend was born in January, 2010, soon after the Supreme Court of the United States came out with its ruling in Citizen’s United v. Federal Election Commission. This ruling created what is termed “corporate personhood,” which upholds the rights of corporations to make political expenditures under the First Amendment of the Constitution.Move To Amend indicates the obvious, that “human beings are people [and] corporations are legal fictions,” and it quotes from the dissenting opinion of Justice Stevens that “corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires….[and] they are not themselves members of ‘We the People’ by whom and for whom our Constitution was established.”
Bill Moyers summed up the Citizens United decision best when he wrote: “Rarely have so few imposed such damage on so many. When five conservative members of the Supreme Court handed for-profit corporations the right to secretly flood political campaigns with tidal waves of cash on the eve of an election, they moved America closer to outright plutocracy, where political power derived from wealth is devoted to the protection of wealth….[This] will likely prove as infamous as the Dred Scott ruling of 1857.”
|New York City, Washington Square Park, School-to-Prison Pipeline, 9/15/2012|
America’s prison system is a national disgrace. We have the largest prison population of any country in the world. The main causes for this are the legislated increases for drug offenders (since 1998) and the privatization of our prisons.This disgrace becomes unconscionable when one factors in what is called the School-to-Prison Pipeline in which disruptive students–especially the poor, the neglected, and those who suffer from learning disabilities–are placed in the juvenile justice system and incarcerated rather than educated. This “pipeline” began in 1994, when Congress put into place “zero tolerance” policies, which mandated expulsion, and then school districts expanded the list of actions which would merit expulsion (and incarceration).
Watch this heartbreaking video (3:14) about one of these unfortunate students, Kyle Thompson, an innocent whose life has been ruined by America’s legislated intolerance masquerading as educational reform. Then keep in mind these cautionary words from writer and constitutional law attorney, John W. Whitehead:
|New York City, Washington Square Park, Spectra & the Lorax, 9/15/2012|
The man in a backpack carries a stuffed Lorax, the creature from Dr. Seuss’ book (1971) of the same name. His sign has the Lorax calling the Spectra Pipeline an obscene name. In Seuss’ book, the Lorax speaks for the trees as a champion of environmental health, while the Once-ler, personifying industrial greed, has laid waste to trees and environment.Accepting this metaphor, the Spectra Pipeline, should be seen as a product of Seuss’ Once-ler; it will bring hundreds of millions of hydrofracked gas under the Hudson River from New Jersey to Gansevoort Street in the West Village and will store it in an underground vault nearby. Work on the project is nearly complete, and so this particular project is a fait accompli.
Regardless of the safety assurances of Spectra Energy, accidents have happened and will continue with just such lines and storage facilities. Here are two videos that outline possible dangers (2:12 & 4:24), both from radon gas and from explosions. At the end of Seuss’ Lorax, the now-chastened Once-ler, having destroyed his environment, sends his young witness home with a seed to plant, saying, “unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing’s going to get better. It’s not.”
As with Seuss’ young witness, only OWS seems to care.
|New York City, Washington Square Park, OWS Disability Caucus, 9/15/2012|
|New York City, Washington Square Park, Wheelchair Revolution, 9/15/2012|
The disabled protesters gather just south of the Washington Arch, near the middle of things. Their presence and prominence underscores the social inclusiveness and diversity of the OWS movement that can be seen everywhere at its gatherings. Their Disability Caucus is a regular part of the OWS General Assembly, and its web page reveals a great range of activities and weekly meetings. Also, click this link to read a narrative by Michele Kaplan on her experience as a disabled person at this OWS demonstration.In contrast to this diversity, the Tea Party–to which OWS constantly is being compared–is mainly composed of white, middle-upper income Americans in their 40s-50s. As writer Anthony DiMaggio points out, the Tea Party is “not really a social movement, but a cluster of elitist interest groups.”
|New York City, Washington Square Park, Old Radical, 9/15/2012|
|New York City, Washington Square Park, Jason (Occupy This Album), 9/15/2012|
The elder gentleman and the youthful Jason at adjacent tables, above, also underscores the social diversity within OWS activists. Jason, who graduated from Stony Brook in sociology, revealed his entrepreneurial spirit by producing a four CD album of songs. Among the many artists included in this CD set, Occupy This Album, are: Ani DiFranco, Crosby & Nash, Willie Nelson, Yoko Ono, and Yo La Tengo.
|New York City, Washington Square Park, The Band, 9/15/2012|
|New York City, Washington Square Park, Free Foot Massages, 9/15/2012|
The celebratory nature of OWS demonstrations can be experienced through the live bands that accompany them and even this offer (above) to relax, gratis, with a free foot massage.
|New York City, Washington Square Park, Joe Mangrum at Work, 9/15/2012|
|New York City, Washington Square Park, Joe Mangrum: I Would Like To Ask, 9/15/2012|
|New York City, Washington Square Park, Joe Mangrum: Sand & Shadows, 9/15/2012|
Joe Mangrum, an artist who lives in Manhattan and whose medium is sand painting, here has made a mandala-like form consisting of a central image of stylized flames and words–actually sentences in the form of questions, spiraling outward from that center.The first, innermost sentence provides the title of the piece, “Burning questions I would like to ask.” From there, the questions embody the multitude of topics that might interest Occupy protesters. Among the sentences and words I am able to discern from these photos are: “Whoever thought fracking was a good idea?” “Why can’t we realize that everything is interconnected?” “Can you name at least 5 presidents?” “Are their minds imprisoned?” “…voting.” “…education.” “…food safety.” “…nuclear power.”
Thus, Mangrum’s art is relevant to and intersects with the Occupy movement. Also, because of its medium–sand painting–it suggests a connection with earlier, native American culture as well as with a more global (Buddhist) connection. And, most obviously, its explosion of color enhances and activates the demonstration and the park.
|New York City, Zuccotti Park, The People’s Mic, 9/17/2012|
|New York City, Zuccotti Park, Police Presence, 9/17/2012|
For the most part, the New York City Police simply made its presence felt at this Anniversary demonstration. They tended to congregate at the edges of the park. I was not witness to any form of aggression when I took these photographs. However, later on they did move in and make several arrests, as this video link documents.
|New York City, Zuccotti Park, Barriers + Joie de Vivre (by Mark di Suvero), 9/17/2012|
Those diagonal, red beams, stretching up seventy feet in the mid-ground, belong to the sculpture by the well-known American abstract artist, Mark di Suvero. This sculpture is titled Joie de Vivre (Joy of Life). Di Suvero made it in 1998; only in 2006 was it moved and installed at the south-east corner of Zuccotti Park.Joie de Vivre is a fitting piece to grace the park chosen by the Occupy demonstrators, in that Mark di Suvero was, himself, a demonstrator, jailed several times during the Vietnam War. Moreover, he is a union man, a member of the city’s crane operator’s union.
|Francisco Goya, The Third of May, 1808, Detail, oil/canvas, 1814, Madrid, Prado|
Then, those of a more radical left persuasion may also take pleasure in the “proletarian red” paint of Joie de Vivre.
Finally, the diagonal gesture of di Suvero’s upward-thrusting red beams calls to mind those most dramatic gestures of questioning and hopelessness in the history of art, Goya’s civilian of Madrid, rounded up with other Madrileños and shot in reprisal by Napoleonic soldiers in 1808. This visual connection is completely accidental, yet so completely fitting for this location, which had witnessed police brutality against a rebellious, but unarmed civilian population several times in the past two years.
Quite often, a work of art accumulates new meaning and added significance over its lifetime. Joie de Vivre did so in less than fifteen years!
|New York City, Zuccotti Park, Jazz Combo, 9/17/2012|
|New York City, Zuccotti Park, Jazz Combo: David, 9/17/2012|
|New York City, Zuccotti Park, Jazz Combo: Drums, 9/17/2012|
|New York City, Zuccotti Park, Kenny: Wall Street in White House, 9/17/2012|
Kenny, from Andover, calls attention to the “revolving door” but in reverse: Wall Street executives who are now in the White House as part of President Obama’s inner circle. Kenny’s reference was most likely influenced by an Ad placed by the conservative group, American Future Fund earlier in 2012; this Ad greatly exaggerated its claim that the “White House is full of Wall Street executives,” although we all know that there definitely were some and, in hindsight, should have been even fewer. See this FactCheck clarification on that Ad.Kenny’s mask, known as the Guy Fawkes mask, has been worn by many OWS demonstrators as well as Anonymous “hacktivists” and others. A stylized representation of Fawkes, a Catholic who tried to bomb the British Parliament in 1605, the mask was created by the contemporary British graphic artist, David Lloyd for a graphic novel. It also was used in the 2006 film, V for Vendetta.
|New York City, Zuccotti Park, Debbie: Two Visions, 9/17/2012|
|New York City, Zuccotti Park, Debbie: Vision 1, 9/17/2012|
|New York City, Zuccotti Park, Debbie: Vision 2, 9/17/2012|
|New York City, Zuccotti Park, Robin Hoods, 9/17/2012|
Both of these photographs pertain to the ideas embodied in the so-called Robin Hood Tax. This idea emerged in Great Britain in February of 2010, then entered the legislative pipeline of the European Parliament before crossing the Atlantic. In essence, it proposes that the financial sector, especially banks and hedge funds, should contribute to the rescue of our economy (that they helped destroy) by paying a tax of less than 1/2 of 1% on their transactions.OWS activists are not the only people who are supporting such a tax. Among some 200,000,000 supporters globe-wide are Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Ban Ki-Moon, the Vatican, Desmond Tutu, Paul Krugman, Lawrence Summers, the AFL-CIO, Nancy Pelosi and Al Gore.
As the gentleman’s sign in the top photograph reads, “it’s not a tax on the people, it’s a tax for the people.” Although that sign refers to the Robin Hood Tax, I have felt that the same principle applies to my own responsibility as an American citizen. I am happy to pay taxes, even accept tax increases (as long as these are equitable, across the board). Taxes are for the people; they pay for education, highways and transportation, welfare programs, social security, unemployment benefits, public housing, health, police and fire protection, among many other things.
|New York City, Zuccotti Park, Ross (from New Jersey), 9/17/2012|
Interestingly, in 1765 at 81 Pearl Street, a mere seven blocks south of Zuccotti Park, the New-York Gazette, the city’s first newspaper, published the following letter to the editor which made reference to the 99% in much the same manner as OWS would some 246 years later. The letter writer asks: “Is it equitable that 99, or rather 999 should suffer for the Extravagance or Grandeur of one? Especially when it is consider’d, that Men frequently owe their Wealth to the Impoverishment of their Neighbours.”
|New York City, Zuccotti Park, All in One Boat, 9/17/2012|
The concept of the 99% implies that we all are in the same boat, and if we weren’t sinking in 2012, we are about to go under this week, as intransigent, right-wing, Tea Party Republicans seem intent upon pushing our country into default. They are busy drilling holes in the hull of the ship of state!As Bill Moyers suggests, Tea Party Republicans are “like the die-hards of the racist South a century and a half ago, who would destroy the Union before giving up their slaves; so would these people burn the place down, sink the ship of state, and sow economic chaos to get their way.”
|New York City, Zuccotti Park, Diana: Ending Class War, 9/17/2012|
It is possible that America’s socio-economic segregation, wealth gap and enormous levels of inequality could lead to a “class war,” but inclusive movements like OWS won’t be the ones fomenting such a conflict. If anything, such a “war” would come from the 1%, as in the movie Elysium. As Diana, an OWS activist from New Jersey, has written on her sign, “we are not trying to start a class war, we are trying to end one.”Sanjay Sanghoee concludes an article titled, “How the Richest 1 Percent Control the 99 Percent in Elysium, and in America,” with this cautionary note: “In accepting the gross income inequality, obscene wealth gap, inexcusable corporate excesses, and blatant political corruption that we do today, we are already laying the groundwork for a real-world Elysium.”
|New York City, Zuccotti Park, Bob: Proud to Be Union, 9/17/2012|
|New York City, Zuccotti Park, Machines Vs. the Middle Class, 9/17/2012|
In 2011, authors Erik Brynjolfsson & Andrew McAfee published a book entitled, Race Against the Machine. The authors noted that the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution has created new, “unknown territory” in the corporate quest to reduce labor costs. They have pointed out that this AI revolution “is doing to white collar jobs what robotics did to blue collar jobs.”This book most likely inspired the sign displayed by Kenny, who joined the anniversary celebration from Andover. The threat of job loss has shifted from impacting the skilled artisans of the early 19th century because of power looms and spinning frames (remember the Luddites), then to our blue collar workers through a combination of automation and foreign outsourcing, and now to the more highly-trained white collar work force whose skills are being replaced by ever more inexpensive computers.
The result is a pattern of job growth mainly in the highest-paid and the lowest-paid (service) occupations and much less now in the middle. It is a problem that our society and country needs to address.
|New York City, Zuccotti Park, Monsanto/Monsatan, 9/17/2012|
OWS played a major role in promoting the nation-wide March Against Monsanto on May 25, 2013. This sign is simply an indication of the early awareness within OWS of the problems with genetically engineered food and seeds.Occupy Monsanto was already a rallying cry. I invite you to go back to my blog post of June 25, 2013 for a fairly complete coverage of the March Against Monsanto and an analysis of the issues involved. In addition, I covered the 2014 March Against Monsanto at this link.
|New York City, Zuccotti Park, Mike & Ashley, 9/17/2012|
Mike and Ashley came in from Staten Island for the day. Mike carries a sign questioning the enormous overkill and confrontational measures of the NYPD in its confrontation with OWS demonstrators. Ashley carries a sign pointing out an all-too-pervasive issue for Americans–the lack of affordable health care.According to Ethan Rome, the executive director of Health Care for America Now, “the health insurance companies’ relentless pursuit of profit and callous disregard for people offers another window into how big corporations have abused people and twisted the economy to serve their own interests. Health insurance companies make excessive profits, hoard massive amounts of cash, overcharge their customers and give their top executives obscene paychecks.”
|New York City, Zuccotti Park, Outlaw Bobby Steele, 9/17/2012|
|New York City, Zuccotti Park, Deby: Last Retiree, 9/17/2012|
The Occupy Wall Street Legacy
OWS is constantly berated as a “leaderless organization,” and because it never became involved in the supporting of political candidates, it seems to have slipped off everybody’s radar, especially that of our news media.However, OWS has had a great impact on our country, and its many working groups have continued to operate in communities across America. As Justin Wedes, one of its founding members notes, the police crackdown on OWS “began a diaspora that continues to this day: protesters returned to their community deeply affected by the experience.”
Here are some random examples of that legacy:
*OWS forced Bank of America to scuttle its plan to impose a $5/monthly fee on debit card users.
*OWS succeeded in abolishing over $1 million in debt from hospital emergency rooms in Kentucky and Indiana.
*OWS has created an alternative banking group and money co-operative that provides low-cost financial services, returning its profits to the communities it serves rather than the big banks.
*OWS played a major and early role in bringing disaster relief to many of the worst-hit neighborhoods in New York in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. See also Josh Fox’s new movie, Occupy Sandy.*OWS played a significant role in the defeat of SOPA, the Stop On-Line Piracy Act, and thus in the championing of on-line freedom, because of its extensive use of and familiarity with social media tools.
“Occupy Wall Street in Zuccotti Park: A Record from Tuesday, October 11” Monday, October 17, 2011
“OWS: Zuccotti in Tents + March to Brooklyn Bridge” Wednesday, November 23, 2011
“OWS, Union Square, Hoodies and America’s Gun Laws” Monday, March 26, 2012